Saturday, May 31, 2008
I just finished reading "The Last Good Campaign", an article in Vanity Fair magazine about Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign, a campaign that last only from the middle of March until early June, when he was killed. It is an excerpt from the book The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America, by Thurston Clark
The article was especially relevant and interesting to me, because RFK announced his campaign at the Alf Landon Lecture at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas in March of 1968. Much of the last part of the article dealt with that speech. In September of 1968, I started college at that school. I knew several people in my dorm who had not only heard the speech, but had signed up and campaigned for him, traveling throughout the country.
K-State was considered the "hick" college, and KU was the liberal colllege. No wonder RFK was worried about his reception there. The only thing that I took exception to in the article was the following: "He saw girls in long skirts who had never worn makeup, and short-haired boys in neckties who were brave enough to leave their prairie towns but not to burn their draft cards." Puh-leez. . . I wonder what happened to all those long-skirted no-makeup girls in the six months between March and September? The article recounted the impressions of young people at the time, like Dan Lykins and Jim Slattery, who are still active in Kansas politics.
RFK had become an outspoken critic of the war in Vietnam, and campaigned against LBJ citing moral reasons for ending that war. Reading parts of his speeches is like deja vu all over again. Very applicable to our country's current situation.
The pictures today are more collages of photographs I took last week. Enjoy.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Yesterday was an interesting day. First, someone asked me if I had ever thought of doing abstract portrait collages using children's pictures and some of my other photographs. Well, no, I hadn't thought of that at all actually. Her suggestion was that I hook up with a popular area family and children's photographer and create such collages for the photographer to present to as part of a package.
I told her I would experiment with pictures I had of Joe and/or Betsy and show her the results. In truth, these first two collages kind of creep me out. . . I don't like that Joe's little face is splattered with what looks like some kind of skin disease.
However, I kind of like this last one. I highlighted a black and white with color at the nape of Joe's neck, which I think is just one of the sweetest places on a baby. I will show my friend these pictures, but if I really were going to do this, I believe I would only do full body shots as opposed to faces.
Second: I had been invited to show my art at an open house affair, which was a good thing. But I had no idea until yesterday that the host company was promoting this as a event highlighting successful businesswomen who provide goods and services particularly of interest to other women. There are ten other women involved in this enterprise, including a personal assistant/shopper/home organizer, a Mary Kay consultant, a Silpada sales rep, the owner of a garden store, a handbag lady, a florist, a chiropracter, an interior design firm, etc., and me, the only artist. We will each give away a prize worth $50. I have a great display area, with plenty of wall space, as well as a long credenza. The women I met with yesterday are ON IT. . . no kidding, they are smart, successful, full of good ideas for promoting their businesses. I know when to keep quiet. . . so I just absorbed the knowledge that was being passed around. I am really looking forward to this event. The networking potential is great; I am so bad at promoting myself. Maybe I can get them to do it for me.
I'm thinking I will create a bunch of ATCs as give-aways, perhaps from my abstract photos. If anyone has a suggestion on a way to show off my canvases that are not stretched, I would appreciate hearing from you. Any other ideas of whatever sort would also be appreciated. Now I have something to work toward. . . perhaps I'll get off my ass and get to work.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
quite possibly the laziest human alive. That's how I feel these days. I'm too busy to make art, yet I do nothing. Oh, I don't just sit. . . in fact, I rarely just sit. I'm always doing something. . .
but I don't have much to show for it. I will pull weeds in the garden, and I think that the porch needs to be cleaned and painted. I think this at least ten times a day. . . so why don't I just paint it?
Work expands to fit the time available. I must think I have unlimited time, because may favorite thought is, oh, I'll do it later. I was much more focused and organized when I worked at my outside-the-home job.
The computer can be my biggest time waster. I still enjoy looking up things on the internet, and can't believe the information that is available at the point-and-click of a button. I will look up words I don't recognize, places I read about, theories I have never really understood. . . which leads to other sites, always ending up at art sites. Damn those links.
These pictures are Picasa collages of some of my photographs combined with the scanned paper towel refuse art. The peony pictures almost look like fabric. Just another way to stay "busy".
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Sometimes I think Joey bears a remarkable resemblance to that political operative Karl Rove. Very cute on a 1-year-old, not so much on a middle age Machiavellian hack. This is Joe on Saturday. . .
and this is Miss Betsy, making a funny face, with her piggytails. This post will be short and sweet: I am taking care of Joe today because he has another one of those viruses that seem to spread through daycare in an instant. I swear I didn't have these strange and mysterious sounding diseases, and neither did my kids. All the usual stuff, but never "hand, foot and mouth disease" or "RSV" or any of those other things. Viruses are scary things. . . I read one time that humans were merely put upon earth to serve as hosts for viruses. I think it was a joke, but sometimes you gotta wonder. . .
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
but to go to the studio and paint something. It was a dark and gloomy rainy day, and I was home alone. This painting actually started as something completely different in my mind. . . I had planned a painting inspired by one of my random paper towel color combinations. But, as usual, that idea was left behind as I tinkered and adjusted and added and detracted. I'm still trying to capture the beautiful colors and textures of physical objects that have been abandoned to the forces of nature.
Monday, May 26, 2008
. . . the trusty old white truck used to haul junk from a remodeling project. . .
almost consumed by rust. . .
with a door that springs right back open when it's slammed shut. . .
with an "antique" license plate. . .
and the source of tons of inspiration.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
on a rainy stormy day, with Stephanie, a hyped-up Betsy, and a teething Joey. Omi was happy to see us, especially the babies, and fed us lunch. This is her house, where my brothers and sisters and I grew up. The turret housed the "girls room" when we were kids. The yard didn't look like this while we were young. . . it was a football field, a baseball diamond, a track, whatever we needed it to be. Those trees weren't there, but they've had 30 years to obliterate all signs of us kids. My mom lives here by herself, and I think it's getting hard for her to keep up with the demands of an old house. It probably needs some work . . . maybe a lot of work.
The search for inspiration was successful, although the wonderful junkyard was closed. I took Joey on stroller rides down the alleys and found some great pictures. The red is so juicy. . .
and I love the texture on this one. I cropped it a bit so that it looks a bit less like a boob. . .
I may have an obsession with blue and rust, but isn't this one great?
I took about 125 pictures, including one of Owen, my classmate. I also visited with Sharon, Freda, Carolyn and Connie. We said we'd stay in touch, exchanged phone numbers and email addresses. I hope we do . . . but reality says we probably won't.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
For sanity's sake, I quit ironing quite a while ago. So it pains me to admit that I spent quite a bit of time yesterday ironing paper towels. These are the ones I have used and saved while painting.
In a previous post, I showed some paper towels that I had somewhat flattened out and then varnished. While I was waiting for a canvas to dry yesterday, I thought that I would really flatten these things before I varnished them. So I sorted through my pile of refuse, picked out the ones that were truly used to the max, set aside those that could be used again to clean up or dab at paint on a canvas, and ironed -- can't you just hear it? "What did you do today, Mom?"
"Ironed all the paper towels." Time for the funny farm.
So then I scanned all the good ones into the computer, and played around with adjustments to color and saturation, as well as the collage thingie on Picasa. Here are some of the results. It was fun -- I end up with a bunch of good stuff on the computer, as well as the actual paper towels, with which to create more art.
At Half-Price Books, I bought a digital scrapbook instruction book only because it contained a CD with Photoshop Elements on it. Try as I might, I cannot get my computer to recognize that program. It tells me I'm missing some essential file and then shuts down. I think in Photoshop I could maybe make some of the layers of the paper towels more transparent and that could result in even more cool art. I would also like to avoid some of the obvious paper towel texture in these collages somehow. I guess buying the cheapest paper towels would be one way to do that. Also, if I can remember, in the future I will only use one ply of the paper towels, instead of two. It has to be easier to pull apart before the paint has dried.
I'm off today to visit my mom. No, I'm not going to my class reunion -- that's tonight. But I haven't been home since Christmas which is wrong, because it's only about 75 minutes away. Also my brother knows some really grungey places that he can take me in town so I can get some good photos. My daughter and her kids are going, too, so my mom will enjoy the great-grandbabies.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Here are coral peonies surrounded by green and red smokebushes. I bought these little tiny sick looking smokebushes in a nursery's "scratch & dent" area about five years ago. They have thrived in my garden. We should probably prune them down to the ground occasionally, but I like that they provide privacy. There is a little ninebark bush blooming there, too. I like the combo of the dark red and coral.
I built this area completely by myself; dug out all the sand from the sand trap that used to be here; paved the area with bricks; lined the four sides with rock. I like to plant something unusual in this urn on a pedestal that sits in the middle of the patio. It started earlier this year with the million bells, a lime and white hosta, and orange-blooming begonias. But the deer ate the leaves off the hosta and most of the begonias, so I stuck in a little red shrub and another different (cheaper) kind of begonia, then sprayed the entire garden copiously with "Liquid Fence". I smelled the urine from that product for a long time, but the deer have stayed away. The urn doesn't look as good as it did before, but it's okay.
This is an area that was in complete sun until the redbud tree grew so big that it became a shadier space. There are still some daylilies that do all right, but I have replaced a lot of the plants with different kinds of hostas. I love hostas and daylilies; plant 'em, ignore 'em and wait for them to bloom and/or get bigger. No fuss gardening.
This area was the last of the three phases of the sun garden. It used to be where I stuck transplants, There's yet another smokebush. This thing was literally a stick from another bush that I stuck in the ground. It rooted, looked like crap for a few years, and is now thriving. Everything in this area is a transplant except for the bronze colored coral bells. I liked the colors together.
This pictures shows the steps and path leading from my self-made patio into the sun garden. Until we trim the smokebush, it's impassable. A baby clematis is trying to climb the right side of the arbor. I think I'm done with the sun garden (for this year, anyway).
Blogger won't let me show more than these five pictures, so I may post a part 3 to the tour. I haven't shown pictures of my "Baby Betsy" daylily, or my "Just Joey" rose. I could show pictures of the shade garden, but I'm still trying to figure out how to terrace it (and how to haul the rock to use) and how its drainage will work. The dirt in the shade garden is hard clay and hasn't improved much despite the mulch and compost I throw on it; I would like to raise the terraced beds and add better soil. I think I'll do it in stages too, and I want to get started before long so I won't have to work in the heat and humidity, because I am a wuss.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Go under the arch with the clematis vines scampering up and across, and the first thing to see is my favorite little statue of this little reader, under a mini redbud tree, next to a yellow rose, threadleaf correopsis, and a daylily.
Follow the path to the left and you come to this combo of peonies and Siberian irises.
Go around to the back of this patch on the path, and you can see the weigelia in bloom. A rose is tucked in there, not yet blooming, as well as some phlox and a daylily. You are looking back at the house, and you can see the small tomato patch that my husband plants every year with varying results, as well as the little KU Jayhawk flag. There are KU things everywhere in this garden.
While you are standing there, peek under the leaves of this tree peony and out pops this killer bloom. Simply jorgeous.
Walk a few steps and pause at the fork in the path. Look straight ahead back toward the redbud tree with the purple leaves. It has just dropped its blossoms. But another shrub is blooming like crazy, the best in years. Too bad I can't remember the name of that shrub. The green shrub on the right is a very cool one -- Virginia allspice. If you enlarge this picture, you will see the sweet little red blooms on it.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Recycling center, not my basement
in my basement. . . both the studio area and the other storage areas. . . and my closets. . . and the storage unit we rent. Oh, the stuff we own, or that owns us. I guess I'm a packrat by nature. . . I hate to get rid of things. I feel sure that there will come a time that I will absolutely need whatever I'm throwing away. It's happened before (but, honestly, not very often.) The basement is daunting. There are still unpacked boxes down there from when we moved into this house. That's when we got the storage unit, too. You would think that after six years, whatever is in those boxes is not necessary. But then again, just a week ago my mother-in-law gave me a beautiful child-size Chinese black silk embroidered pajama set that someone had given to her when she was a child. It had to be 75 years old. What do I want to hand down to Betsy and Joe? What will be meaningful, if not valuable, to them. Okay, it probably won't be the stuff in the basement or in the storage unit.
At one time, I thought maybe I would like to be an assemblage artist, so at garage sales, estate sales, and on ebay, I bought amazing old stuff. I admit, I've never even tried an assemblage. But I sure have some good stuff down there. Then, along the same line, I was briefly intrigued by making jewelry a la Susan Lenart Kazmer. So tons of stuff for that, too. I actually did make some pretty cool stuff that I gave away. But I don't think I'll go back to that ever again (but then again, maybe I will.) I have been a seamstress when it was necessary or expedient, and so I have a major stash of fabrics. I will never use it all. No one could in a lifetime. And then there are the power tools -- love, love, love them. But don't use them much any more. And of all the stupid things to keep, under my art/ping pong table I have two boxes of antique acrylic paint -- really, it's very old, dried up -- bought from an estate sale of an artist.
Time to let go, I think. Simplify. Identify. Discard. Donate. Sell. Recycle. Get rid of the stuff.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Baptist Church Bus III, 11.5 x 14", mixed media on canvas
in the Baptist Church Bus paintings. . . definitely not my favorite, but it was time to move on to other things. Actually, up close, the texture and depth of this painting is interesting. Perhaps all three of them together would make a good grouping. I am not done with that blue church bus, no, not at all.
I haven't heard yet if I need to switch my focus to large large large canvases. . . haven't yet spent the money to buy new canvas. I am trying to use up the odd bits and pieces that I have left over from other projects, and I find that I enjoy making the smaller pieces. I think of them as studies for potential bigger canvases. And I have lots and lots of paper to use, too. But I have been distracted from art the last few weeks because of the nice weather and the weeds in the garden, the blooming peonies in the most marvelous colors (deep deep maroon, purple, clear apricot, golden yellow), and now the roses just starting to bloom . . . always something new outside to check out. In just a few weeks, the weather will be in the 90s and the humidity will be in the 90s and the bugs will be in the millions, and I'll be back inside.
Yesterday I went to a new nursery near my home and found the most wonderful, beautiful country drive; hilly, twisty roads with the newly-green treetops meeting and forming an archway over the road; then, suddenly, flat, flat, flat, empty Kansas River bottom land, not a tree in sight, farmland stretching to the actual river. Of the half-dozen places on that road, four parcels were for sale. It used to be my dream to live in the country in an old barn converted to a gorgeous open living space. Of course, reality eventually overcomes fantasy. I am already far enough away from the things that make everyday living simpler; I am already too much of a hermit; I hate bugs and snakes. Now I wouldn't mind living in a maintenance-provided one bedroom condo. However, my husband, the former Future Farmer of America member, still has dreams of acreage and raising exotic animals (llamas? miniature goats?) One of the places had been for sale for a while, because the weeds had all but hidden the signs. It was a wonderful old country farmhouse. All the glass in the windows had been broken out, the front porch sagged, the paint was peeling off in sheets. I could see taking on this project with an unlimited money supply and assistance from Candace Olsen on HGTV.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Digital collage created in Picasa
I read in the paper this morning that 56% of economists believe the United States is in a recession. Everyone knows that times are difficult for many people, especially for those in what used to be the middle class. For those of us of a certain age, it's not anything new. We have lived through tough times before and probably will again. Obviously it's more fun when there's more money to spend (like for art or groceries.) You hang on, change your lifestyle, do whatever it takes to make it through the cycle, assuming that good times will come again. They usually do.
My friend Mike is doing what it takes: he lost his lease on his office in a beautiful restored old building downtown when a collection agency expanded and exercised its option on his space. That is an interesting fact in and of itself. Mike had little more than 30 days to find an alternative space. Now, everyone knows around here that downtown is where it's happening these days. And everyone knows that the suburbs are dull and artistically devoid of any merit. So Mike, being in a somewhat creative line of work, worried about losing clients if he moved closer to home. However, after working the numbers, Mike moved to his new office space over the weekend, less than a mile from home. He will save 1% of his income right off the bat, because he will no longer have to pay the city earnings tax. The savings in gasoline costs will be significant, and his commute time will be less than five minutes with little traffic.
Cheap gas was one of the major factors in the growth of the suburbs. Perhaps the high cost of gas will now generate yet another lifestyle, where, like Mike, you can work where you live and live where you work. Perhaps the concept of a small town will regenerate. I hope so.
You will ask, what does this have to do with art? Well, Mike has asked me to provide the art for his new space, which of course I will be happy to do. He was the person who arrange for my first showing in the Crossroad District downtown, which was so successful. I owe him for his continuing support and encouragement.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I have never made an issue of my age . . . I'm not ashamed of being 57 years old. . . I still feel like I'm about 16 most of the time. So it's no big deal that I announce here that my 40th class reunion is next weekend. I graduated in 1968 -- what a year to come of age in the US -- in a class of 54 students, in a town of 2,500 people. I think most kids from my town probably knew about the social upheaval that occurred, especially that year, in the rest of the world. But I think most of us didn't participate in it, for whatever reasons. Of course we saw evidence of the "counterculture" in Lawrence, at KU, where culture got as counter as you could find in Kansas. Yeah, we knew MLK had been shot but there were no race issues in my town because there were no people of any color other than white. And yeah, Bobby was killed and Rosie Grier was there with him; that was certainly a scary time. Later that year, the gym at Kansas State University, where I was a freshman, was burned under suspicious circumstances. . . and a kid from NYC who lived in my dorm claimed to have something to do with it, but we didn't really believe him. We just knew we got to go home for Christmas vacation earlier, without taking finals, because of "campus unrest." Some kids in town grew long hair, formed garage bands, played at being hippies, and discovered the easy availability of drugs, but I personally preferred the beer at the Main Gate back when you could drink at age 18. So basically, history missed me altogether. This was certainly brought home to me when I returned to college five years ago to finish my degree. . . what I lived through and remembered is now being taught in college. WOW
Okay, I'm rambling here. I can't decide whether to attend this reunion or not. It's being held at the home of one of my classmates, Sharon, who lives right on the main street of town. Sharon was probably as close as our town came to someone who embraced all aspects of the 60s. One of my other classmates, Gary, has set up a nice website for the Class of 1968. A lot of the boys in my class have lost a lot of hair. A lot of the girls in my class have gained a lot of weight. Some moved away to California (Owen) or Chicago (Bob) or Texas (Merilee); some moved away to Topeka or Kansas City; some moved away and came back; some never left, and a surprising few have died (Quentin and David.) My mother and my sisters-in-law generally keep me updated.
If I can figure out why I don't want to go to this reunion, then maybe I can overcome it and attend. I'm still undecided. I think I don't want to be reminded that we are all getting old, we're grandparents, and we are not indestructable like we were in 1968. I somewhat want to remember the potential in us as graduating seniors, as opposed to the reality that is 40 years later.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Okay, maybe my house isn't in need of repair to this extent, but it isn't this interesting, either. We do need new siding, but I don't think the homeowners association would approve this, although if we wait long enough we won't have to worry about approval. We also need to paint the deck and back porch, replace some gutters, fix a soffit, blah blah blah. I would also like to terrace my shade garden, which involves mostly hard physical labor on my part as opposed to dollars spent. I recently met Nancy, a neighbor down the street. I had heard that she had a fabulous garden, so I just went down and asked if I could see it. Sure enough, the steep back yard had been turned into a shade paradise. She is a pretty cool lady, indefatiguable apparently. She dug up all the rocks from her property. . . her husband bought her a small jackhammer to assist her (funny, I didn't ask if he helped her himself.) There are terraces and patios and a pond containing major sized koi; it's a work-in-progress. . . but all garden are, I think. She is also a metal worker. . . she has a plasma cutter and welding equipment and makes amazing garden ornaments from rusted stuff and plumbing pipes. She (and her garden) is an inspiration.
Friday, May 16, 2008
This is a photo of a painting in the Designer Showhouse that my mother, my sister and I visited yesterday. I liked it. . . but the artist was not credited anywhere that we could find . . .this one was located in the walk-in closet. . .
This painting, too, was unattributed. This was my favorite. It was sitting on a ledge in the master bedroom shower. I assume that it will not have a permanent home there.
This picture shows my mom and my sister relaxing by the pool at the showhouse. (Aren't they "jorgeous"?) We specifically liked the deck chairs. . . they were comfortable, but I would want to have ottomans or something to put my feet on.
My sister's office is on the second floor of a block of charming buildings, with shops at street level. Many of these shops have been or are in the process of becoming galleries. The Collective Art Gallery was featuring monoprints and mixed media by Pat Nobo. The above scan is of Pat's card announcing the opening of the show. We then had lunch at a local restaurant, out on the patio. We all had to drive and/or go back to work, so we skipped the chocolate martinis for diet Cokes.
The showhouse itself was actually no bigger than my house, and the only knock-out part of it was the kitchen, which featured appliances from Gaggenau and Bosch. Quartz, soapstone and granite countertops. . . numerous sinks. . . wine storage. . . numerous ovens and microwaves. . .pull-out skinny pantry shelves. . . a table made from the trunk of tree that had been cut down from the backyard. . . things I have never seen before and things I wouldn't even know how to use. . . estimated cost $100,000. That would buy a whole lot of art supplies.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Baptist Church Bus II, 11.5 x 14"; mixed media on canvas
That old school bus in the used car back lot has really been the source of inspiration for my latest paintings. I had quite a successful photo-shooting outing that day, and I can't wait to go out again and find more great ideas. This is, of course, one of the taillights of the old bus. I find that it's hard to get blues to come out accurately on the computer but this is pretty close, despite the glare in the upper right corner. Maybe a little too dark . . . I also can't really look at these paintings objectively because I know what the original picture looked like, and even what the original item looked like, so I can't tell whether this painting would be interesting to someone who didn't know. Can it stand alone on it own merits? Does it need to?
I think I must be pretty single-minded. . . a one-task-at-a-time person, not a multi-tasker. I sort of knew this when I worked . . . I hated to be interrupted to do something else when I was deeply into another project. I started three of these small paintings at the same time, applying texture and then the base layers of colors. But I then worked on one until it was finished, instead of doing a little on this one, a little on that one. One advantage of starting three at one time, however, is that I only have to wait once for the texture and base coats to dry.
I'm off today to meet my sister and my mom and some friends to tour a designer showhouse. The designers will be there in person to answer questions. I have heard that the kitchen is phenomenal. Interesting, but my kitchen is phenomenal enough for me, since I don't cook much. Probably a cooler and a microwave would be sufficient for my food preparation skills. The art is supposed to be fun, too. I hope they let me take pictures. . . if they do, I'll post some.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Heavy Equipment IV, 11 x 14", mixed media on canvas
The above painting is the finished product of one of the three shown in yesterday's blog. . . the one on the left, obviously, since the other two are going to be mostly blue. It is actually inspired by a collage I made through Picasa of the photos I took a few days ago. Even with little Joey here, I was able to work on these paintings during his naps. He is a sweetheart for sure. Neighbors visited, little kids crowded the driveway with little vehicles, and Joe watched it all carefully before venturing into the fray.
Belatedly I noticed that I have posted more than 100 entries on this blog. I don't think I've missed a day of posting since I started in February 2008. I started the blog because I read somewhere that to be taken seriously, an artist should have an internet presence. Since blogs are free and easy to set up, I chose that "internet presence" as opposed to a website. Maybe someday a website will develop, but not yet. I do wonder if anyone is reading this stuff. . . so because I really enjoy starting my day with this blog, I have decided to screw the "artist internet presence" attitude and just plain blog to keep a record of my life for at least one year, with the focus remaining primarily on my art. I will post the new stuff as I create it, but I will stop feeling guilty if I have nothing new every single day. And if no one reads it, fine. . . I'm going to stop worrying about it.
Andy helped me set up and load the IPOD with about 10 hours of songs already on my computer. This has to rate as one of the best inventions of the last decade. I love it . . . I sat on the back porch last night with my book and my IPOD and rocked and read. I received word yesterday that a hospital loves my art, but wants big art -- 50 x60", 60 x 70". I can do that, with revisions to my workspace and painting methods. It will be interesting to see how this pans out. Oh, and how can I forget my niece Amanda in Detroit suburbs -- Mom told me she had surgery yesterday to remove her appendix. I was worried about her high school graduation, but apparently she will be in fine shape to participate. Love you, little girl; and I hope you're doing okay, too, Ann.